Housework is often fought about, but rarely taken seriously as a source of conflict in relationships. Yet, household chores deserve just as much attention as any other issue. If one person perceives an imbalance of effort, it can breed feelings of resentment. If you find yourselves having the same arguments about housework, it’s may be time to have a sit-down talk about how to resolve the matter once and for all.  

Why Couples Should Stop Brushing Aside Fights About Housework  

 Getting Stuck in Our Roles  

Oftentimes one person is labeled the “messier” or “lazier” partner of the two when it comes to cleaning up or tackling chores. This can be frustrating to the other individual, who may get stuck picking up the slack. Yet, the messy person may simply not consider a clean house as important as the other person does. Their oversight isn’t personal, but it certainly can feel that way.  

Meeting in the middle can be challenging. If one person values a tidy home more than the other, the other person may expect to be praised and rewarded when they complete chores. They may act as if they’re “helping with” household tasks, when in reality the responsibility should fall on both parties. When the “messier” individual is asked to do more, they may become defensive.  

Breaking From the Routine 

In most modern relationships, sharing tasks works best, as both individuals are likely to lead busy lives. To get out of the “neat” or “messy” boxes we sometimes fall into, both members of the relationship must recognize the tasks needed to keep a household running as important shared priorities. You still can – and should – divvy up the work, however. Consider defining who will take on tasks such as childcare, finances, cleaning the house, food shopping, maintaining vehicles, and household upgrades. Of course, some of these tasks can be approached together as a team.  

Lay some ground rules for how the tasks will be completed. Some will need more concrete rules than others; for example, vacuuming a day later than anticipated won’t have the same consequences as forgetting to pay the bills on time. With that being said, remember that neither person should feel as if the other is “slacking off,” so make a point to do your part as agreed upon.  

The Value of Compromise  

If you’ve recently laid out a task list with your significant other and they’ve been tasked with some new chores, be patient as they take on their new roles. Avoid being overly harsh or critical if they don’t clean or complete the task in the exact way you’d have done it. Within time, you can get to a place where both individuals are contributing to household tasks as equally as possible, and there is harmony among how chores are tackled on a regular basis.  

Sometimes, couples that argue about housework may have some underlying issues to work through. Seeking help from a couples’ counselor such as Chuck Beardsley, LCSW can help. This licensed clinical social worker offers practical strategies to help couples find a common ground on common issues to promote healthy conflict resolution. Schedule an appointment in his Mountainside, NJ office here or by calling (908) 264-5336.